NYC Bucket List: Coney Island

There are many famous attractions in New York, and perhaps the one most associated with summer is Coney Island.

Janie, Tonya and I took the Q train to visit this place of lore last Saturday.

Compared to the 4th of July weekend which had been plagued with thunderstorms, the day was perfect beach weather.

Our first stop after leaving the train was for lunch- and where else would we go but Nathan’s Famous.

Coney Island 007.

Unable to find any seats, we took our hot dogs and cheese fries to the boardwalk to soak in the scene of squealing children and boomboxes playing Latin music.

It’s a strange dichotomy where on one side of the boardwalk are the whirring gears of amusement park rides and the other side the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean. Man-made versus nature. All the children wandering by with their families reminded me of my own childhood vacation spots of Virginia Beach and Hershey Park.

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For as much as I love the ocean, I don’t get to go very often. The fact that I’ve been twice in one year is a kind of a record. Say what you will about the city, but the fact that I can take a train to a moderately decent beach is a plus in my book. However, as I didn’t want to take the hour-long ride back with damp hair, we just opted to wet our feet. Given how freezing the water was, I doubt I would’ve had the courage to swim any way.

Coney Island 026

After our stroll on the beach, we finally went to the amusement parks where the prices were less than amusing. Really I only wanted to ride the Ferris Wheel, but $8 on an intern budget is still a lot.

Also I’ve never been a huge fan of carnivals, probably because they’re so pervasive in the region I grew up in. From Union Bridge to Gamber, a Marylander’s summer life is defined by carnival season when all the VFWs have their carnivals. My hometown’s always started the Sunday before Memorial Day-and it always rained that day.

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After deciding we really weren’t going to pay the exorbitant fees charged for the over glorified carnival rides, I decided we should walk to Brighton Beach. I’m still unsure whether there actually is a geographical difference between Coney Island Beach and Brighton Beach, but Brighton was much quieter and less crowded.

Our walk also led us to the Russian neighborhood that Tonya was excited to explore. It was her first real exposure to so much Russian language in one place since leaving Moscow and she was  overjoyed and overwhelmed. She read aloud the street signs to Janie and I, and when I dropped my glass bottle to a shattered mess in a Russian market she translated what the shopkeeper was saying to us. A great chance for Tonya to use her language skills, but a waste of a perfectly good Snapple.

After Tonya quickly stopped into a liquor store to price some Russian vodka, we said “до свидания” to Brighton and returned to Manhattan.

I’d like to go further out for my next beach trip, but might just end up at Rockaway.



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